Checking in with elderly fans: Brighton and Hove Albion’s new phone call initiative


More than 70 members of staff from Brighton and Hove Albion FC have been phoning fans aged over 70 to check on their wellbeing and to make sure they have food and medical supplies.

Staff members including owner Tony Bloom and head coach Graham Potter will be phoning elderly fans every week, as part of a campaign that the club’s Chief Executive, Paul Barber, has called an “uplifting experience”:

Twenty-odd years ago, the community saved this football club, so it was really important in this unprecedented period that we found a way to keep in touch.

Yesterday I called five people, the chairman has called a few today. I know that Graham (Potter) is doing some, as well as Bruno, Andrew Crofts, Bobby Zamora and some players from the women’s squad.

The first two people I phoned were in their garden, and they were really appreciative of the call. We had a good chat, a few laughs and joked about what they’d been up to. We checked and made sure they had the food they needed and any pharmacy requirements they needed.

It’s a small thing we can do but I think it’s the right thing to do and it’s been great. It’s been uplifting for me personally, funnily enough. It gives you a little sense you’re contributing to something.

Brighton and Hove Albion have set the precedent among Premier League clubs when it comes to offering support to the local community during the Covid-19 crisis.

Last week, we reported that the club will be donating one thousand tickets for future matches to frontline NHS staff currently fighting coronavirus, and has urged other clubs to do the same. Earlier this month, they also donated hundreds of meals to local homeless charities after fixtures were postponed, and their catering partner has donated a quantity of non-perishable food and drink to NHS workers in Sussex.

Barber has said he is not surprised at how clubs at all levels have responded in their local communities to the current crisis:

Football is made up of really good people who want to do the right thing and who realise how important they are to their communities particularly at a time like this. At the lower levels money is very tight at the moment but everybody is pulling together to do what they can. It’s a question of whatever you can do, however you can help, whatever difference you can make, now’s the time to do it, and I think it has shown that there’s a real heart and soul to the game which some people thought might have been lost over the years.

Featured image: John K Thorne via Flickr.




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